Beirut: religion and COVID, Phoenician Wall, Rounding the Horn

March 28, 2021

One more week, one more weekend.  Not much to report. Several religious celebrations are taking place, creating the conditions for the virus to spread. Thursday was a holiday here; the Feast of the Annunciation. I didn’t teach.  Today is Sunday of Palms and the streets were brimming with Homo Sapiens. I just came back from a ride with Marina. We didn’t go far because the traffic was horrible. I  wouldn’t be surprised if the number of COVID cases increases this coming week.  In fact, the government has already announced that it will enforce a new lock-down starting April 3rd to prevent the social gatherings that take place around Easter.  Next weekend will be our last before we travel to the US and it seems we will be staying put. 

Yesterday we went to Batroun for lunch and a walk around town.  We wanted to show Marina the Phoenician Wall. It was originally a natural structure made of sand dunes that was gradually reinforced by the Phoenicians to protect the town from tidal waves around 850 BC. The controlled what today is Lebanon during the period 2500-333 BC. Great sailors and entrepreneurs. They were able to build an impressive maritime trade network and became the dominant commercial power for much of classical antiquity.

I finished reading Rounding the Horn by Dallas Murphy. He writes about the first sailors, explorers, scientists, and missionaries who rounded the horn or visited the region  — Drake, FiztRoy, Darwin, and  the captains of clipper and windjammer sailing ships are some of the characters.  Many of their stories, triumphs and defeats are well known, but Murphy tights them together through their interactions with the inhabitants of the lands that surround the Horn; the Yahgan. Every other chapter covers Murphy’s own cruising trip from Ushuaia to Cape Horn and back aboard Pelagic; Skip Novak’s boat. I enjoyed the historical chapters, particularly the descriptions of the roundings from East to West, less so the travelog part.  

The day ended with a nice dinner, Persian Chicken, accompanied but a bootle of good wine.

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